Monday, February 19, 2018

Only Connect: One TeachingAuthor’s Mantra

What do I   best about teaching?

Like Carmela, I, too, love learning alongside my students and watching them grow and bloom as writers.
I love putting forth and sharing my Journey, so students can learn from my travels and shorten theirs.
I especially love making learning easier, because it can never be easy when it comes to learning how to write for children.  To me the nouns “facilitator” and “teacher” are synonymous.
Best of all, though?
I love my role as “Connector-in-Chief,” believing firmly as I do in MARY POPPINS author P.L. Travers’ advice to “only connect.”

Pamela Travers borrowed the famous epigraph from E.M. Forster’s HOWARD’S END for a Library of Congress address. The words underscored her belief that we must connect with our worlds, with each other and with ourselves if our stories are to connect with our readers. “Only connect” took its rightful place in the world of children’s books when Sheila Egoff borrowed Travers’ theme to title her collection on children’s literature readings.

I delight in connecting my students and the writers I coach to their Children’s Book World.
To fellow writers and classmates,
     the residents, including the gatekeepers,
     the professional communities, in Real Space and online,
     the publications,
     the markets.
As for the existing body of children’s literature, I adore gifting a writer and or class with a relevant book or author or publisher or illustrator, with a genre, a format, a possibility.
Our world is there, welcoming and accessible, a bounty of rich resources.

I delight in connecting writers to STORY, to its construct, its elements, and the how-to’s of its telling to its readers, so they can make sure their stories’ parts are working harmoniously.
It’s my pleasure to share whatever helps my students hone their storytelling.

Connecting my writers to their stories, though – the ones they’re telling their readers and the writer’s story they’re living, gladdens me immeasurably.  Offering writers ways to probe and discover  the heart of their stories as well as continue their Journeys – no matter the hardships, no matter the rejection - is both my ultimate challenge and joy.

If I do my Connector-in-Chief job right,
“Oh!” my writers will respond,
“Wow!” they’ll remark.
Their stories will get told.
Sparks will fly and electrify.

Seeing and feeling those sparks to any of the above, that’s what keeps me keepin’ on,  grateful and honored to be doing what I love and loving what I do.

Happy connecting and learning!

Esther Hershenhorn

How could I write about connecting and NOT share any connections?!
Click here to receive PW’s 2 Children’s Book issues at an SCBWI-member discount.
Click here to learn about Kwame Alexander’s new imprint Versify.
Click here to read Linda Ashman’s PictureBookBuilders post on what makes a successful read-aloud rhyming picture book.
Is it too late to start writing after 50? Click here for the answer.

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